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Vice President Mike Pence to discuss test shortages with governors, Trump says

Mario Parker
Bloomberg

Vice President Mike Pence will discuss shortcomings in U.S. testing for coronavirus infections with governors on Monday, President Donald Trump said.

Trump said his administration will share information with the governors ahead of the call about testing capacity in their states that might not yet be utilized. He also said he’ll use the Defense Production Act, a law that allows the government greater power over industrial production in crisis, to increase manufacturing of swabs used for testing.

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing Sunday at the White House.

The president didn’t name the company that would be subjected to the law.

“It should be a local thing,” Trump said of testing during a White House news conference on Sunday. “We’re going to help them more than a lot,” he said of states.

Pence will “review what more they could do, and do together, to develop locally tailored testing strategies,” Trump said. The White House will “send them a full list of all large lab machinery in the states” and “the potential capacity of those machines if they’re fully utilized.”

He said some governors are relying on their state laboratories and aren’t turning to large commercial and academic labs to expand testing.

Governors of both parties have complained they can’t begin the White House’s three-phase plan to reopen the U.S. economy without far more widespread testing for the virus. Several governors criticized Trump earlier Sunday for trying to cast the shortfall in testing as a problem for states to resolve.

“To try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren’t doing our job, is just absolutely false,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN.

Trump last week said he had “absolutely” authority to direct states to reopen before backing down and instead issuing guidelines for governors to undertake it.

“Governors wanted total control over the opening of their states” but now want help with testing, Trump said. They “can’t have it both ways,” he said.